Jason O'Rourke | Best of 2016

Best of 2016

February 23, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since I’ve done my year in review, but seems like I should take stock of how far I’ve come in my photography career.

Each year, I learn a little more and have added a few new pieces of equipment to my camera bag, and 2016 was no exception. The addition of my Nikkor 200-500mm lens in January 2016 certainly changed the way I looked at the world around me, and while Hawaii may be known for its amazing landscape, I spent most of 2016 taking a closer look at everything from waves to lava to the wildlife around me.

I started out with a rental of the 200-500mm from Hawaii Camera, just to see how I liked it in real shooting situations. A trip to Kauai seemed like a great way to test it, from the waves at Ke’e Beach to the birds at Kilauea, and on my last morning on Kauai, a juvenile Hawaiian Monk Seal hauled out on the tiny stretch of sand in Poipu and let me get a shot of his afternoon snooze.

G22G22A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal takes an afternoon snooze on a beach in Poipu.
Back on Oahu, I decided the new lens I had in the bag was for the birds… literally. A “wandering tattler” or ‘Ulili, a golden plover, and, of course, the beautiful Laysan albatross out at Ka’ena Point.
'Ulili'UliliAn 'Ulili, or "Wandering Tattler" fishes a tidal pool on Oahu's North Shore. Golden PloverGolden PloverA Golden Plover in sunset light on the hike back from Ka'ena Point. Albatross ChickAlbatross ChickA Laysan albatross chick scans the sky for an adult bird bringing a meal.
My volunteer role with the Hawaiian monk seals was made just a touch easier… the detail I am able to capture allows me to see the fur around a monk seal’s eyes (or get a good picture of their tags for a positive I.D.), so I took this portrait of Aukai while at Ka’ena point as well.
AukaiAukaiAukai napping at Ka'ena Point... amazing detail of the fur of around her eyes, or her eyelids themselves.
Next up were the waves… I may have gone up to Waimea Bay when the Eddie… didn’t go, and missed it when they actually ran it about a week later, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t find a beautiful Shorebreak to photograph.

ShorebreakShorebreakA shorebreak wave on Oahu's North Shore.
In March, my wife and I went to the Big Island with her sister and boyfriend and visited the Waimea area for an opportunity to photograph their resident pueo.

Big Island PueoBig Island PueoThe pueo, or Hawaiian owl, hunts in the forests and grasslands throughout Hawaii, and is one of the most well-known of the ‘aumākua, or ancestor spirits, in Hawaiian culture.
During the pupping season for the Hawaiian monk seals, I really put in some work, getting portraits of the new baby monk seals born on Oahu, and then again as each of Ka’ale, Kawena and Lei Ola reached the weaner stage.

Ka'aleKa'aleA three week old Hawaiian monk seal at the water’s edge. His nickname means open ocean swell, which is where we hope he will be found for years to come. KawenaKawenaNew weaner Kawena rolls over after a nap and takes a look around at her surroundings. Lei OlaLei OlaLei Ola, her first day as a weaner, exploring on her own. Ka'aleKa'aleKa'ale wakes from an afternoon nap on Oahu's North Shore to find the paparazzi taking photos.
In July, I spent an afternoon volunteering with the Malama Na Honu team at Laniakea Beach, and added a portrait of Oakley splashing a little water and throwing a little sand on his shell to the portfolio of Honu in my wildlife album.

OakleyOakleyOne of the regulars at Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore, nicknamed Oakley. While basking, many Honu will throw sand, or splash water on their backs, as Oakley is doing here.
As the summer wound down, and the lava was flowing on the Big Island, we made our second trip of the year to watch the formation of new beaches as the lava met the ocean.

Lava DripLava DripThe ocean entry is always amazing to witness.
My wife and I decided to visit another island, this time on the other side of the world, with almost two weeks spent on the Emerald Isle, Ireland and we enjoyed exploring the castles and the Wild Atlantic Way, including a beautiful sunset at the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of MoherCliffs of MoherIreland's famous Cliffs of Moher.
I shot the moon in November, again, literally with the Super Moon hanging above Oahu.

Super MoonSuper MoonThe Super Moon over Oahu.
For December, it was back to where I started the year, sitting on Ke’e Beach at the end of the road, watching the amazing waves crash into the cliffs down the Napali Coast. I have spent so many hours on this beach, watching the waves fan as they collide and the colors of the sunset trapped in the rain in a valley in the distance. This trip, however, the newest tool in my camera bag helped me cover the distance to where all the action was happening, and I captured this Ke’e Tower image to wrap up another amazing year living here in Hawaii.

Ke'e TowerKe'e TowerA towering fan wave forms off the Na Pali coast as waves rushing back from the cliffs collide with the next set coming in. I'm looking forward to the year ahead, and continuing to build on the images I share with you.



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